TransportationIn the U.S., around 13 million acres of land are used as roads and rights-of-way in the interstate highway system. That’s a lot of real estate, and all it does is provide a surface on which to operate cars and trucks.

But a pioneering new experiment in Georgia, known as The Ray, is reimagining what roads could look like if they multi-tasked. Allie Kelly, the executive director of The Ray, says their 18-mile stretch of highway is using IoT technology to communicate with smart cars, generating solar power, and even growing crops.

In this edition of the podcast, she explains how their project could mean new opportunities for the manufacturers of construction and agriculture equipment.

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SHOW TRANSCRIPT

Allie Kelly: We believe that our existing infrastructure could be multitasking, could become more productive, and could even produce additional revenues for transportation purposes for our DOTs.

Dusty Weis: Hello and welcome to another edition of the AEM Thinking Forward Podcast, advancing the equipment manufacturing industry. I'm Dusty Weis. Do you ever stop to think how much real estate is dedicated to transportation infrastructure? I mean, in the U.S., we're talking about 13 million acres of roads and right of ways, and all that's being used as is a surface to drive on. But one project in Georgia called The Ray is imagining what roads could look like if they multitasked. And in this edition of the podcast, we'll talk to Allie Kelly, Executive Director of The Ray, about how their 18 mile stretch of highway is communicating with smart cars, generating power, and even growing crops.

Dusty Weis: But that's the sort of thought provoking conversation we aim for here on the AEM Thinking Forward Podcast. Each month, we explore a new subject area to help keep your business on the cutting edge of the heavy equipment industry. I'd hate for you to miss an episode so make sure that you're subscribed to our podcast feed. Feedback is always welcome and appreciated as well. You can post a comment, rate us, and leave us a review in whatever your favorite podcasting app is, and we'll use that insight to tailor future episodes to what's on your mind.

Dusty Weis: So if you've been out car shopping recently, I don't have to tell you how much cars have evolved in recent years. Roads on the other hand look pretty much the same as they did a generation ago, and any technological advances are usually pretty subtle. But they're working to change all that out on this 18 mile stretch of interstate in Georgia, and some of these technologies stand to significantly change the trajectory of the road construction industry, making The Ray of keen interest to many AEM member companies. In fact, today's guest will be among the keynote speakers at this year's AEM Annual Conference. With a background in advocacy and consumer protection, Allie Kelly joined The Ray in 2015 as its executive director. Since then, she's built the project into a living laboratory of transportation tech, implementing a dozen new technologies and delivering keynotes to audiences throughout the world. Allie Kelly, how are you doing? Thanks for joining us.

Allie Kelly: I'm doing great. I'm excited.

Dusty Weis: Well, neat. We've been looking forward to this one for a while, and I know a lot of people are looking forward to your presentation at the AEM Annual Conference as well. But for starters here, when you say that The Ray is the only publicly accessible living laboratory for transportation innovation, what do you mean by that? What is The Ray?

Allie Kelly: So The Ray is an 18 mile stretch of working interstate in West Georgia. We begin The Ray at the Georgia-Alabama state line on Interstate 85, and it extends 18 miles north on I85 towards the city of Atlanta. And The Ray has a partnership with the Georgia DOT and the Federal Highway Administration. And we also have a formal charter that enables the work of our three organizations to imagine what technologies and what innovations could debut on The Ray and how technologies already exist today that could make our interstate driving safer, can make it cleaner, could make it more efficient, and where could we help those technologies go next after they proved to be successful on The Ray?

Dusty Weis: Now, one of the things that I think is so impressive about this, when you say you got the FHA and the Georgia Department of Transportation to work together with each other and a bunch of private partners on a thing, that coming together of bureaucracies does not happen very often. That's quite an impressive feat.

Allie Kelly: It doesn't happen very often. We are one of the very few places in the country where transportation, technology, testing, and R&D is occurring in a public space as opposed to a private test track, right? We are on the Interstate for better or worse with all the unexpected and sometimes chaotic things that can happen on a heavily utilized interstate. That's our testing ground.

Allie Kelly: And we're working in a very broad partnership. We call it the P4, or the public-private-philanthropic partnership, and we basically use our philanthropic resources first and foremost to mitigate the risks of trying something new on a working interstate. But we're also utilizing our resources to find the technologies that are ripe, that are ready for prime time, that make sense. And to make it happen, right, to fill out the paperwork, yes, to negotiate the deals, to put the funding together, those are all things that we do at The Ray to help these projects to occur because otherwise, it's just very difficult for state DOTs and the Federal Highway Administration to try new things, especially on the Interstate System.

Dusty Weis: And when you talk about trying new things, you're talking about solar power. You're talking about IoT communication between cars on the road. You're talking about all sorts of technologies that are relevant to AEM members. And I think that one of the reasons that this is so exciting to people is because when you look at road construction, traditionally, you're talking about a pretty simple structure that's just built on a very massive scale to serve one purpose. And as I look at some of those technologies being piloted on The Ray, it seems like a lot of these are efforts to start using all this infrastructure to do more. What made you look at modern infrastructure and say, "I think we can do more with this than just drive on it"?

Allie Kelly: Well, first of all, there are a lot of single-use assets in the transportation sector, right, and our roadside ends up being so much larger than a safety setback. In actuality, what ends up happening is that real estate is just sitting there. And even worse than that, our DOTs are responsible for maintaining that, which is a financial burden to the DOTs as they're tending to that real estate. And nothing's really ever happening on it when it could be multitasking. Same thing with the travel lane, I need it to get me from point A to point B. I need a transportation surface. But could the travel lane also be doing other productive activities like collecting energy from the sun's rays, or could it be connected, not just collecting data, but also relaying that data to me or to the DOT? There are things, we believe, that our existing infrastructure could be multitasking, could become more productive, and could even produce additional revenues for transportation purposes for our DOTs.

Dusty Weis: In that vein, one of the big banner headline features on The Ray is its solar-powered roadway. That's sort of a pioneering concept right there. How does that work exactly, and how did it come about?

Allie Kelly: That's one of the things about the Interstate System is that we have to clear on either side of the travel lanes to provide that safety setback for drivers. And the unintended consequence of that is that our travel lanes are almost completely exposed to the sun. And so this is an opportunity for the travel lane to generate clean energy from the sun's exposure. So we worked with a French company called Colas who had developed a product called the Wattway, which is an overlay that adheres onto your existing roadway. It basically armors the road that you already have, and the solar cells are now installed on top of the roadway where they can harvest energy day in and day out as the travel lane of the interstate is exposed to the sun.

Dusty Weis: I can't believe that you can just drive on that. I mean, any solar power technology that I've ever seen has been fragile like you're almost afraid to sneeze on it.

Allie Kelly: And there are other approaches that do in fact involve glass, but we decided to work with Wattway because you simply install it on the road infrastructure that you already have. And personally, I have seen tour buses full of people. I've seen 18-wheeler freight vehicles. I've seen heavy work trucks. I've seen all manner of vehicles drive over our 50 square meter section of solar road, which generated six megawatt hours in the first 12 months that it was installed, which is basically the average American home energy demand for an entire year.

Dusty Weis: Oh, wow, that's incredible. And is it expensive to build a solar panel that's heavily armored enough to be run over by an 18-wheeler?

Allie Kelly: Well, we had worked with the company in 2016 to demonstrate the very first version for the very first time outside of France, and so the cost that we paid in 2016 isn't really relevant today. They've now innovated all the way to a third version of the technology, and we're going to be able to install and demonstrate that newest third version of the Wattway on The Ray in the coming weeks, which is going to be great. And I believe that this version is the same version that they're going to commercialize and they're going to go out to the general public with the solar road technology. And it of course, it will cost money, but you still also have to remember that you get a return on investment every day that the sun is shining. So it remains to be seen exactly what the cost of the third version that we get will be and what the ROI might be for our state departments of transportation.

Allie Kelly: But we still believe at The Ray that it's an important inquiry for us to be undertaking and considering in the transportation sector is that revenue question is only going to become more and more important. As we see revenues from traditional funding sources like the federal and state gas taxes, we know that those revenues are going to be shrinking over the next five, 10, 15 years as electric vehicles become even more common. So solving that funding question is really important for all of us to collectively be thinking about and working on. And this is just one of the ways. It's not a silver bullet, but this is a buckshot approach of finding new revenue, diversifying the revenue streams, and helping DOTs to think creatively about how they fund transportation in the future.

Dusty Weis: I know that that's one issue that is near and dear to the hearts of AEM members because so many of them produce the heavy equipment that's used to build roads. And as road construction funds have dried up, that means that the contractors who build them have less work, and that means that the contractors who build them buy fewer pieces of equipment. So really, providing that revenue for road construction directly benefits AEM's members. Are there other opportunities to use some of that underutilized infrastructure that we talked about earlier to generate more funds that could be used to aid road building?

Allie Kelly: Well, there's just so much opportunity because there's so much roadside real estate. We are building a solar power plant on the side of the interstate. We're using about four acres of diamond interchange and with the utility Georgia Power, which is a Southern company subsidiary, we're going to be installing 2,600 high efficient solar panels, which will be connected to the utility grid. And we'll generate a megawatt of energy from the roadside of The Ray. This will be about four acres of pollinator-friendly solar farm, which means that the ground cover will intentionally be planted with native plants to produce habitat and food for bees, butterflies, and some birds, the various species of pollinators that pollinate our food supply, right, that make our food supply possible, avocados, almonds, peaches, blueberries. So much of our food supply depends on pollinators, and even some wind-pollinated crops like peanuts and cotton are still better producing for farmers when they're visited by wild pollinators.

Dusty Weis: I'm actually really glad that you brought pollinators in agriculture into it because agriculture is a particularly important sector among AEM member companies, and I understand that on The Ray, you're also pioneering practices for farming in the highway right of way. How exactly does that work?

Allie Kelly: Well, I have to be honest. We were inspired by states like Utah, Kansas, and North Carolina who over the years have had various roadside farming programs. We were trying to figure out what was the approach that would be relevant for any state and that would be relevant for a long period of time. What we found is that companies like Kimberly-Clark and others that make disposable goods, your toilet tissue, baby diapers, paper towels, or your paper kitchen napkins, that those products are increasingly being made from what's called sustainable fiber. And it created a really interesting, unique opportunity for us at The Ray to work with the land institute, which is based in Kansas. They've developed a product called Kernza, K-E-R-N-Z-A, which is a perennial wheat product, which means that over winter, the cold snaps over winter forced the plant into a reproductive phase, and the plant actually reseeds itself every year as opposed to traditional wheat, which has to be reseeded manually.

Allie Kelly: One of the things about being perennial in nature is that this wheat grows very deep in extensive root systems. The root systems can be as deep as 10 to 11 feet long, not inches but feet. And so this plant is really great at holding the soil of the roadsides from erosion and causing that sedimentation into nearby waterways, so it checks the boxes of our Georgia DOT in terms of erosion.

Allie Kelly: But for us at The Ray, we're concerned about the transportation sector being the number one contributor to carbon in the air. This plant actually, it does a great job of scrubbing the carbon, sequestering it right out of the air, and then pushing it 10 foot deep below the top soil where it could be disturbed down into the soils where it can be re-sequestered and restored and cleaned out of the air. And so it actually, it accomplishes near and dear missions for all of us, right? And then it also presents an economic opportunities to farmers and the equipment manufacturers who are making the equipment for harvesting fiber like wheat because we can now see a program where farmers are put to work on the roadsides harvesting sustainable wheat for the production of disposable goods.

Dusty Weis: When you mentioned the Kernza and the fact that it could mean new sources of revenue for equipment manufacturers, I could hear our AEM members, our listeners, their ears perking up there. What sort of properties does this plant have? Could existing agriculture equipment be modified to harvest it, or are we talking about whole new lines of equipment that would be produced to harvest this product?

Allie Kelly: There's nothing above the ground that's different about perennial wheat or Kernza. What's really different about this plant is the underground nature of the plant because it's capable of reseeding itself is that it's able to grow these really deep and expansive root systems. But for the equipment manufacturers and the farmers, it doesn't look much different from the ground up of the wheat that we harvest and produce now.

Dusty Weis: Well, maybe we could see old wheat threshers running along the side of the Interstate someday. That would be pretty neat. Changing gears a little bit, a lot of the disruption that's taking place in transportation right now is also impacting AEM members. And one technology in particular that they're starting to get their heads around and adopt into the machines that they build is Internet of Things. So I was really excited to hear that The Ray is deploying vehicle-to-infrastructure communications technology, or you call it V2X, that's vehicle-to-everything. But how is that project coming along, and how does it work?

Allie Kelly: Well, we've launched it in the late summer of 2019, and it is an engagement between Georgia DOT and The Ray as the funders working with Panasonic to build the data management platform, or the brain, for connected vehicle data streams. As more auto makers produce connected vehicles, the roadside will be able to hear a dataset projected every 10 seconds from the vehicles. And when they hear that dataset, they'll bring that data into this brain, into this data management platform called CIRRUS.

Allie Kelly: And this data over time, as more and more vehicles become connected, this is going to become the largest data stream that we have ever seen in the U.S., and it's going to look like a lot of snow, right? I mean, it's going to look like trying to pick meaning like a needle out of a haystack. And so you need a very capable management system to find the patterns, to find the meaning in this giant data stream, and to be able to do it quickly and to be able to return that meaning directly in a stream of communication from the roadsides back into the vehicles and again to the vehicles in their native language. It doesn't matter what technology, DSRC or cellular V2X, our roadside broadcast will be in both of those languages so that we can be the equalizer in that technology race.

Dusty Weis: I mean, when you're talking about the data that are coming off of smart cars on the road, you're not just talking about things like speed and direction. You're talking about temperature, road conditions, traffic, whether or not people are slamming on the brakes. What are you then able to do with that pile of data when it's analyzed back at the big brain?

Allie Kelly: Well, the dataset is made up of nearly 150 different data points right now, and it does include latitude, longitude, speed, heading, all of that, but it also includes what we call contextual data points like, "This is the position of my transmission. This is the position of my wiper set. This is the status of my airbag. This is the status of my car's traction with the road."

Allie Kelly: So an example of how harvesting connected vehicle data and turning that big data into big meaning, this is how it can be helpful, right? If I get data from 100 vehicles in an area, that they have all activated their wiper set, and out of those 100 vehicles, five vehicles tell me that they have lost traction with the road, and two vehicles tell me that their airbag has been deployed, well, I know from the fact that their wiper set was engaged, that there's a rain event. The fact that there was a loss of traction of several vehicles, that it was probably not just a rain event but a flooding event that caused hydroplaning and that two of those vehicles have had an accident. I know exactly when it occurred, where it occurred, at the moment that it occurred. And I can return information not only to emergency responders, but I can return information directly to the road, right? So I can send real-time warnings to the roadside dynamic message signs and into the vehicles themselves, "Accident ahead, slow down, suggest reroute on Davis Road." We have the capability of doing that.

Dusty Weis: And this is huge because, I don't know if you know this, but the Association of Equipment Manufacturers has its headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and this is a problem that we see regularly in much of the Midwest. You see the videos on the news or on YouTube every winter it feels like, where you have these terrible blizzards and white out conditions. And one little crash turns into a 40, 50 car pileup because everybody's just moving along at 60 miles an hour with no idea that there's a crash ahead of them. And so the notion that you can push a message out to all these smart cars on the road that says, "Pull over, slow down, you're about to come across something really awful," could potentially save dozens of lives.

Allie Kelly: And we have the ability to intervene the moment that something happens to help people avoid areas where there's something dangerous that is occurring or has occurred. And it could be weather related. It could be crash related. It could be just congestion itself. We can start to better leverage the efficiency of our system and the operation of our system by having the ability to intervene immediately. When we need to give a red light signaling priority to emergency responders, we can do that through connected vehicle technology. What it requires is a very small investment in the infrastructure on the roadsides, and it requires that we commit to building a data management system that's capable and powerful enough of scaling over time to handle the kind of data pipeline and the size of the data that we're talking about building over time and being able to perform its function accurately every time in fractions of a second. That's what we're doing with Georgia DOT and Panasonic.

Dusty Weis: One thing I noticed is that as you mentioned that this is a burgeoning partnership with Panasonic, a lot of AEMs members are in a similar boat right now where they're trying to figure out how to incorporate new IoT technology. And some of them are trying to go it alone and develop it in-house, and other AEM members are going out, and they're finding corporate partners that have this sort of domain expertise, and they're partnering with them on that. How important is the partnership with Panasonic for you in developing this technology?

Allie Kelly: They're the only, if not one of the very, very few who are working on this type of data management project, right? So they're not just building an app for a specific functionality. They're building the large data management system. And if Panasonic's not the only one, they're one of a very few. So it's important for us to work with a partner like Panasonic because it enables this work to happen. We don't have the resources to do it alone. We don't have the expertise to do it alone.

Allie Kelly: The other piece that's really important is just that we achieve a commitment to interoperability across this country. You want to have technologies that will work with each other, right, so that I don't travel from The Ray in Southwest Georgia to Wisconsin and find that my connected car is no longer able to communicate with the roadside infrastructure in Wisconsin, right? We need to achieve some agreement and some commitment around some basic standards of interoperability and also future-proofing because the investments that we make today need to serve us well into the future so that we have a functionality around safety and efficiency that will travel with us from one region of the country to another.

Dusty Weis: With all these needs technologies that have been deployed on and along The Ray, what do you hear from just the regular folks that are driving on the highway as a way to get from point A to point B? Is the technological evolution that's going on lost on them, or are they super into it?

Allie Kelly: It's a long tail of innovation, right? We've had the ability to leverage connected car technology for over 20 years for example, right? I mean, in particular, the dedicated short-range communication safety spectrum has been set aside by the federal government for more than 20 years. We're only now starting to make the cars that are capable of using that safety spectrum. So part of it is the long tail of innovation. And when you have a long tail of innovation, sometimes people aren't paying attention till it's go time.

Allie Kelly: There's another side of this too though, which is that we do have areas of transportation innovation where things are just accelerating almost like it's hyper accelerated. For example, we know that air taxis are coming. We know that autonomous vehicles are coming, and we're seeing small deployments occurring around the world right now. For example, there's an autonomous vehicle company in China called Pony.ai, and they're operating across the city and with vehicles that have no human drivers. Also the company Uber has an air taxi company that is going to be operating an air taxi service in Dubai in 2020 as a part of their Elevate Conference. And we know that Waymo One and Lyft are working together in the Phoenix area to provide autonomous vehicle rides via the Lyft service to people who specifically ask to experience Waymo One.

Dusty Weis: We actually talked to the project manager from Waymo a couple episodes on this podcast, and her name was Ellice Perez. She was fascinating and just so great to talk to, but it was really neat to hear about how they're pioneering that technology.

Allie Kelly: It's amazing, right? And some of these things feel like it's happening really, really fast, right? And some of it feels like we've had it forever and we just haven't picked up the tool to use it. So I mean, this is about the attention span of the general driving public. And it's like with the iPhone. I mean, we were all happy to carry around our Blackberries and before then our briefcase phones until the next thing you knew, Good Morning America was broadcasting live from the two-day long line at the iPhone at the Apple Store.

Dusty Weis: So what about you? I mean, this is your baby. What is it like for you to drive on The Ray?

Allie Kelly: Well, we live and work on The Ray. Our founder, Harriet Anderson Langford, lives in LaGrange on The Ray. I live just north of The Ray, and I travel it every week, sometimes multiple times during the week. We care about it. It is literally in our backyard. We feel like it has a lot of influence and a lot of potential to help save lives, reduce carbon, and make transportation more productive and efficient around the world. But on our 18 miles of living lab, it means even more because it's our home.

Dusty Weis: It's got to be really gratifying to be able to see your work in action every time that you drive to Atlanta. I know there's one thing that you really wanted to talk about that we haven't touched on yet, and that's the surface itself, the pavement that you've used on The Ray. And maybe it doesn't come up as often because... I don't know if there's any nice way to say this, because it's probably not as sexy as some of the other technologies on The Ray, but how is the road surface itself on The Ray a game changer as well?

Allie Kelly: Well, we just resurfaced 13 of 18 miles of The Ray with asphalt, and the federal government funded a test section of asphalt that's been modified with rubber from recycled scrap tires. This is one of the things that we're doing on The Ray that's most dear to our hearts. You're right. It might not be super sexy. It certainly isn't big technology like solar in the road or autonomous cars that drive themselves.

Allie Kelly: But this is something that we could be doing right now, and we really should be doing right now across the country because in America alone every year, we're generating 300 million scrap tires. And when you put a scrap tire in a landfill, it doesn't go anywhere. It doesn't break down. It doesn't disappear. It stays a scrap tire for hundreds and hundreds of years. So there are 300 million reasons why we need to figure out how to recycle more of our scrap tires into something else.

Allie Kelly: And the road bed provides a really excellent opportunity for recycling scrap tires into a product that is so superior, right? It's such a superior performing road. When you recycle scrap tires into rubberized asphalt, you get a road that lasts longer. It resists cracking even in extreme heat, even in heavy rain. It's a quiet road. So sometimes, you need the roadside noise barriers. You don't need them at all or you don't need them quite as high. And that's pretty expensive infrastructure to build those noise barriers. So it's quieter. It actually wears on car tires differently. A rubber road produces less wear, which means that your tires of your drivers last longer and you don't have as much tire dust in the air. And tire dust is a particulate air pollution that we're concerned about.

Allie Kelly: Finally, that rubber incorporated into this sticky binder allows us to use looser rock types in our asphalt. And when we use looser rock types, the positive of that is that the looser rock allows water from rain events to work its way off to the side of the road through the road off of the surface so you reduce hydro planning. You reduce splash back from rain building up on the road. It is literally a safer road, a longer lasting, more resilient, quieter, and safer road to drive on.

Dusty Weis: There are a lot of people associated with the Association of Equipment Manufacturers who are big experts in asphalt and pavement, and I bet they are just losing their minds right now over this concept. You did it, Allie. You made pavement sexy. That's excellent.

Allie Kelly: Well, I love it so it's not hard for me to do. I mean, these are opportunities big and small for us to innovate in the transportation sector to achieve something great for everyone, right? If you care about the environment and you hug trees, there's something in the transportation sector that we can innovate to please you and to achieve your goals. And similarly, if you want self-driving cars and a connected roadway, we've got it for you, right? I mean, we've got the striping that autonomous vehicles can see, day, night, rain, shine. We've got signs that have redundancy that can identify themselves to you because the signs are connected. We've got the data environment. I mean, we have the ability to deliver a smart highway, a cleaner highway, for the benefit of everyone, right, for the benefit of DOTs, for the benefit of the drivers, for the benefit of the equipment manufacturers, for the benefit of the road builders and the construction firms, and yeah, for the benefit of the environment. We can do all of that. We have the technology at our fingertips right now. We just need to pick up the technology and start using it.

Dusty Weis: Are there ways for AEM's member companies, the equipment manufacturers themselves, to get involved with this project or benefit from it?

Allie Kelly: Absolutely because the highway of the future, while we have the technology and the tools, we still need the equipment to build the highway of the future. We're doing it. Yeah, it's a small scale. It's 18 miles, but it's a start, right? It's a proof of concept. It's our first step. What we have to do is figure out how to go from 18 miles to thousands of miles, and we're going to need your equipment and your equipment manufacturers to do that on thousands of U.S. Interstate miles.

Dusty Weis: Well, I will put a link to your website in the episode description of this podcast so anybody that wants to learn more about The Ray can visit that. But what is that website?

Allie Kelly: We are at www.theray.org.

Dusty Weis: Do you have anything else to add, Allie?

Allie Kelly: Just follow us on social media at TheRayHighway on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook. You'll find us wherever you look for us at The Ray Highway. And thank you so much to AEM and your members. This is a partnership between The Ray and AEM that means so much to us, and together, we think that we are going to build the highway of the future that is going to enable safer, smarter, and cleaner roads.

Dusty Weis: Well, I know that I have heard nothing but rave reviews from the AEM people that I know who have visited you out there in Georgia. I know that Vice President Al Cervero and Director of Construction Services Sara Feuling paid you a visit. In fact, that was actually Sara's first week on the job at AEM. She's an old friend of mine from way back. But she said how much fun she had out there and how much she learned, and then she looked at me and said, "Is this what it's always going to be like here at AEM?"

Allie Kelly: And you said, "Yes, every day."

Dusty Weis: Yeah, pretty much, you're going to wind up in some really interesting places talking to some really fascinating people. This podcast has certainly been no exception. So Allie Kelly, Executive Director of The Ray, thank you for joining us on the AEM Thinking Forward Podcast.

Allie Kelly: Thank you very much.

Dusty Weis: As I noted earlier, Allie will be one of the keynote speakers at the AEM Annual Conference November 18th through the 20th. That's your chance to see her in-person as well as many other big name speakers in the lineup, mix and mingle with other movers and shakers in the heavy equipment industry during golf or at the gala. And if the prospect of winter has already got you down, it's worth noting that this year's event is on the Florida Gulf Coast. Marco Island is not too shabby in late November. It's not too late to register. Go to aem.org/annual to learn more.

Dusty Weis: And that is going to wrap up this edition of the AEM Thinking Forward Podcast. For more valuable industry insights, make sure you're signed up for the AEM Industry Advisor, our twice weekly e-newsletter. Visit aem.org/subscribe. If you need to get in touch with me, shoot me an email at podcast@aem.org. The AEM Thinking Forward Podcast is brought to you by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers and produced by Podcamp Media, branded podcast production for businesses, podcampmedia.com. Little Glass Men does the music. And for AEM, thanks for listening. I'm Dusty Weis.

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